President Biden vowed Wednesday to put his entire “soul” into the job of president of the United States and called for an end to an “uncivil war” of political division so the country can combat a multitude of crises.
“We must end this uncivil war that pits red against blue, rural versus urban, conservative versus liberal,” Mr. Biden said in his approximately 21-minute inaugural address. “We can do this — if we open our souls instead of hardening our hearts.”
Mr. Biden was sworn in as the 46th president of the United States minutes earlier.
“Today, on this January day, my whole soul is in this,” he said, playing on a phrase from Abraham Lincoln when he signed the Emancipation Proclamation. “Bringing America together. Uniting our people. Uniting our nation. And I ask every American to join me in this cause.”
Mr. Biden said it was time to “stop the shouting” and “lower the temperature.”
“I will be a president for all Americans,” he said, vowing to fight as hard for people who supported him as those who did not.
SEE ALSO: Joe Biden sworn into office as 46th president
“To all those who did not support us, let me say this: Hear me out as we move forward. Take a measure of me and my heart,” Mr. Biden said. “If you still disagree, so be it. That’s democracy. That’s America — the right to dissent peaceably.”
He was sworn in as the 46th president of the United States minutes earlier.
The president enters office with the coronavirus pandemic still raging and the U.S. economy still struggling to recover from the associated economic damage.
“We’ll press forward with speed and urgency, for we have much to do in this winter of peril and significant possibilities,” he said. “Much to repair. Much to restore. Much to heal, much to build, and much to gain.”
Mr. Biden paused his address to hold a moment of silence for the lives lost due to the pandemic.
“We’re entering what may be the toughest and deadliest period of the virus,” he said. “We must set aside politics and finally face this pandemic as one nation. … We will get through this together.”
Mr. Biden said the country is also fighting battles on other fronts, including racial justice, climate change, and “the rise of political extremism, white supremacy, domestic terrorism.”
“With unity, we can do great things — important things,” he said. “Here’s our message to those beyond our borders: America has been tested, and we’ve come out stronger for it.”
He also takes office two weeks after pro-Trump rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol and one week after the Democratic-led House voted to impeach former President Trump for inciting the attack.
Mr. Biden said the attackers thought they could use violence to “drive us” from the “sacred ground” of the Capitol.
“It did not happen. It will never happen. Not today, not tomorrow — not ever,” he said, generating some applause from the limited crowd.
“Recent weeks and months have taught us a painful lesson: There is truth, and there are lies. Lies told for power and for profit,” Mr. Biden said.
He said political leaders in particular have a responsibility “to defend the truth and defeat the lies.”
Mr. Trump had fired up a crowd of supporters not too far from the Capitol before the deadly siege on Jan. 6.
The former president spent the last two months telling his supporters that Mr. Biden and the Democrats stole the election from him.
Mr. Trump did not attend the inauguration, departing for Florida before the proceedings started.
Mr. Biden has repeatedly said he hopes the U.S. Senate can balance an impeachment trial with his early priorities like confirming Cabinet nominees and passing a $1.9 trillion economic rescue package.
In his address, Mr. Biden gave a nod to Vice President Kamala Harris, the first woman and woman of color to hold the office who was also sworn in on Wednesday.
“Here we stand where 108 years ago at another inaugural, thousands of protesters tried to block brave women marching for the right to vote,” he said. “And today, we mark the swearing-in of the first woman in American history elected to national office — Vice President Kamala Harris. Don’t tell me things can’t change.”